Laura Matthew is a historian of southern Mesoamerica and Central America, especially Guatemala, under Spanish colonial rule. She is interested in how people recreate community, identity, and attachment to place after long migrations and/or in radically changed circumstances.
She welcomes inquiries about the Interdisciplinary Latin American and Latinx Studies major and minor at Marquette and about immersive undergraduate research opportunities in Guatemala.
Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania (2004)
M.A., University of Texas at Austin (1993)
HIST 1301 History of Latin America (a regional survey, ancient to modern)
HIST 4353 History of Mexico (ancient to modern)
HIST 1701 ESSV: Mexicans, Mesoamericans, Americans (on the entangled histories behind the current immigration debate)
Dr. Matthew's first two books focused on Mesoamerican allies of Spanish empire. Indian Conquistadors: Indigenous Allies in the Conquest of Mesoamerica (co-edited with Michel Oudijk, 2007) demonstrates how Mesoamerican methods of warfare – and many thousands of Mesoamericans themselves – shaped conquests that would ultimately be labeled Spanish. Memories of Conquest: Becoming Mexicano in Colonial Guatemala (2012, Spanish translation 2017) examines a single colony of Nahua and Zapotec allies of the Spanish who maintained a memory of their origins and a privileged social and political space for themselves under colonial rule. She has also published articles in Mesoamérica, The Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History, and Ethnohistory.
Currently she is researching trade and migration along the southern Pacific coast from Oaxaca to El Salvador during the violent sixteenth century, and is the co-creator with Michael Bannister and director of the digital archive "Nahuatl/Nawat in Central America."
colonial, Mesoamerica, Guatemala
Honors and Awards
Dr. Matthew has been awarded fellowships by the American Council of Learned Societies; the American Philosophical Society, the Newberry Library (Mellon Long Term Fellowship), the U.S. Department of Education (Fulbright-Hays), and the Research Institute for the Study of Man, and is an elected corresponding member of the Academia de Geografía e Historia de Guatemala.
Her book Memories of Conquest was awarded the 2013 Howard F. Cline Memorial Prize from the Conference on Latin American History for the best book on Native Americans in Latin America and the 2013 Murdo MacLeod Prize from the Southern Historical Association for the best book in Latin American history.
She has served on the editorial board and as reviews editor of the Asociación para el Fomento de los Estudios Históricos en Centroamérica, as Councilor for the American Society for Ethnohistory, and on the Board of Editors of the Hispanic American Historical Review.
In 2017 she was the College of Arts and Sciences Mentor of the Year.
Read an interview with Laura about her book, Memories of Conquest.